How to Be a Better Negotiator

2016.9.30 better negotiator
Image Credit: Ben Rosett

By Lee Campbell, account manager

At IMI we put an emphasis on continuing education and learning about best practices in our industry. Recently, I attended the Meeting Planners International Carolina Chapter Meeting and had the chance to learn about “Naked Negotiating” from Deborah Gardner, CMP. Here are some great takeaways from that session.

Focus on best fit.

Instead of negotiating with vendors in the typical manner, aggressively seeking after only the cheapest prices, consider changing your approach to Negotia Dating instead. Try to determine if the partnership is the “right fit” for the overall goal.

Know your needs.

When negotiating, keep in mind your needs and priorities. Gardner says to follow this Formula to Good Negotiating and know:

  • What are your “Must Haves”
  • What would you “Like to Have”
  • What are your “Tradables”

Determine these items before meeting with your vendor. It can be helpful for you to see a straightforward list of what you’re willing to negotiate on and what you’re not willing to give up. It will also help your vendor understand your needs and desires – and to see that you are flexible in some areas. This will open the relationship to a win-win partnership for all parties to be successful in getting what they need.

Have more than one plan.

Gardner suggests you practice “MOONing” – be ready with Multiple Offers Of Negotiation. Offer something new and different from what is expected. This will keep the negotiating game moving instead of coming to a stalemate. Thinking outside the box can bring new opportunities.

Here’s one more great tip I learned. We all keep a close eye on our room block to avoid those dreaded attrition fees. What if there is more you can do to help sell your unused room blocks? Consider using service to sell unused room blocks.  Yes, there is a small cost to use this service, but is much less than paying attrition.

Do you have other negotiating tips? Share with us in the comments.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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